The Andrews Government’s staggered return to school plan for students in regional Victoria puts local primary schools at a significant disadvantage, according to Nationals Member for Euroa Steph Ryan.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Ms Ryan said the decision to allow only some year levels to return to onsite learning did not go far enough.
Research released Wednesday by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found lockdowns and school closures – not covid-19 – are the main risks to children and adolescents’ health in this pandemic.
“The government must urgently outline a plan to return all year levels to school,” Ms Ryan said.
“The Premier can no longer ignore the significant harm of school closures and lockdowns on the mental health of our youngest Victorians.”
Ms Ryan said the one-size-fits-all approach adopted by Labor was nonsensical in country communities.
“The return of year 12s, for example, means Seymour College has more than 100 students on site.
“Meanwhile, our smallest primary schools in rural communities like Redesdale, Devenish and Broken Creek which have only a handful of students, cannot have all year levels at school.
“To put it into perspective, there is a total of just 91 students enrolled across Merrigum, Broken Creek, Redesdale, Tallarook, Devenish and Winton primary schools.
“These restrictions are incredibly unfair and divisive, particularly for families with kids across multiple year levels.”
Ms Ryan said some Victorian students had lost over 150 days of face-to-face learning because of lockdowns.
“Parents are contacting me at their wits’ end, because their kids just want to get back to school – they want to learn from their teachers, and they want to see their friends,” Ms Ryan said.
“The government can’t keep hiding behind health advice it won’t even release to the public.
“It’s time Daniel Andrews gave us a workable plan.”